El Clasico - Barcelona vs Real Mardid Preview

Barcelona v Real Madrid
Spanish La Liga
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Monday 29th November, 2010
20:00 GMT

The whole world will be watching El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. This rivalry started on February 17, 1902 and it's only been growing since. El Clasico is more than just a rivalry; it's a clash of cultures and the history it's represent, a clash between Spanish nationalism (Real Madrid) and Catalan nationalism (Barcelona). This is without a doubt, the biggest rivalry in European club football.

The show-stopping battle between the two great Spanish rivals might be over-hyped for everything that it’s worth for, but who can blame it. This is the first match between the two real contenders to be crowned as the La Liga champions at the end of the season 2010/11. Guardiola's Barcelona and Mourinho's Real Madrid have the perfect chance to display all their talents and show us how good they actually are in the most anticipated La Liga match in recent years. If that wasn't enough to get you interested, then think of Pep Guardiola versus Jose Mourinho, Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo, Madridstas versus Catalans, Tiki Taka versus Galacticos.

Real Madrid haven't lost since Mourinho took over, 19 matches in total. That number includes two Champions League games against AC Milan, two ruthless annihilations of Ajax, plus twelve La Liga rivals also unable to defeat the Madridistas. After a hesitant beginning of the season offensively, they now have at least five legitimate scoring threats (Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín, Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema). Their defensive structure looks at it's best and their mental disposition appears reinforced, a key factor when it comes down to facing Barcelona. To sum all this up, a telling figure: Los Blancos have won their last seven domestic matches by an aggregated 27-5.

In the opposite corner, Barcelona, the current La Liga Champions, only one point behind their nemesis, and just like them already qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with still one match left to play. Despite having had a well defined playing style for a longer period of time than their arch-rivals, Barcelona also overcame specific attacking issues in the early stages of the season, such as David Villa's scoring woes, and now, with Lionel Messi on fire, their front line looks as intimidating as ever. Real Madrid feel more comfortable without the ball. Barça prefer to attack and defend by keeping possession, and have added solid bench options to manage the match when they get the lead. Summarising their impressive run of form, theys have succeeded in their last six La Liga matches by 23-3, very similar to Real Madrid's.

Just like every successful team, Barcelona have earned their fair share of haters ever since Guardiola took charge. Barcelona's football philosophy has ensured that these haters remains as a minority, but they do exist. Most of them will be supporting Los Blancos, simply because they can't stand to see Barcelona win anymore and hoping that Jose Mourinho will  puts an end to Barcelona's domination. Should Barcelona fail to get all three points on Monday, it will be seen by these people as proof that Barcelona's successful run is over. Should Barcelona win, it will be seen by many as proof that Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho are overrated.

No matter what happens on Monday, the title race will be open. In the best-case scenario for Barcelona, they'll get a two-point lead on their eternal rivals, while Real Madrid best-case scenario is a four-point lead. With 25 matches left to play (including another El Clasico), these gaps are close to meaningless, as both Barcelona and Real Madrid will certainly drop more points along the way. Both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho and even some players have clearly stated that this is far from a decisive match, and it's impossible to argue with that.

The hype surrounding this match is somewhat justified; after all, it's El Clasico. But it's also exaggerated to some extent. This will only be "the biggest Clasico ever" until the next one comes around in April, in what could potentially be a decisive match. This one has, however, all the makings of a classic match. On display are the two biggest clubs in the world, the best players in the world and the two managers of the moment (the last two managers to win the Champions League).

The most interesting duel is perhaps between Lionel Messi and Jose Mourinho, as the best player of this generation will face the best and most successful manager of the past decade. But there will also be Xavi Hernandez, Cristiano Ronaldo Andres Iniesta and Mesut Ozil, who can all claim to be among the top players in the world at the moment. And of course, the majority of the recent World Champions will also feature at Camp Nou. Barcelona and Real Madrid have slowly, but steadily, been building a monopoly of the best football players in the world, and they currently possess arguably the two strongest squads in Europe. Jose Mourinho's arrival has only brought even more mediatic attention to El Clasico. Pep Guardiola has won everything in his short managerial career, but can he beat The Special One?

This year, the battle of the two Spanish giants will be more intense than ever. Pep Guardiola's Barcelona are trying to cement their position among the best club teams of all-time (which they already are), while Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid are trying to stop Barca and build a dynasty of their own. Both teams have been looking great and have been steamrolling their opponents lately, both in Spain and in Europe. And it is within thiat context, El Clasico is even more eagerly awaited and anticipated by the neutrals.

For the first time in recent years, Barcelona's domination is under serious danger. A Real Madrid win might start a shift in the balance of power. But then again, it might not: As big an event as this Clasico will be, it will by no means be decisive, regardless of the outcome. That said, a fabulous, unforgettable duel is expected. Who will win is anybody's guess. After all, anything can happen in football so don't miss the chance to watch the first edition of El Clasico in 2010/11 season.

Related Articles:
La Liga: A Brief History Of ''El Clasico''
The World’s Most Violent Football Rivalries
La Liga: Top 10 Goals In "El Clasico" History

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